A third of people re-tested for incapacity benefits in Essex have been found “fit to work”. The replacement of incapacity benefits with the employment and support allowance (ESA) involved the reassessment of claimants. Of the 12,000 re-assessed in Essex so far, more than 3,500 face having to get work or seek jobseekers’ allowance.
Disability support groups in the county said people were worried about the new rules.
The reassessment process started in 2010 and is ongoing,
Those found fit for work will no longer be eligible for ongoing sickness benefit.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We are committed to help thousands of people move from benefits and back into work if they are capable while giving unconditional support to those who need it.”
Of those reassessed, 42% of claimants in Brentwood were deemed ready to work. In Maldon the figure was 41%, in Braintree 38% and Basildon 35%.
Trish Carpenter, manager at the Southend Citizen Advice Bureau, said people were coming in on an hourly basis concerned about their reassessment.
“It really does come as a real shock to people. They face a very anxious time,” she said.